I was pleased that in this second book we learn more about Genna's world and the culture that the humans once had before the Nightlings defeated them in the war and enslaved those they did not slaughter. The Sun Wizards were extremely advanced, both technologically and in their magics. But for all the learning and the glorious achievements, they were lacking in interpersonal connections.
After the events in The Ruby Key, Genna, Doyati, Yarri and Catri are learning about the Sun Wizards and trying to discover more about Genna's mission as the Sun Rider. They are not making much progress under Nolan, and then Catri and Genna barely survive an attempt on their life, being saved by the dragon that was supposed to eat them and he takes them to the Spire, the great home of the Sun Wizards. There Genna and Catri explore, waking a young boy Jagan who has been in a sort of suspended animation for 1000 years. Catri is smitten. The ghosts of the past wizards determine they must be trained in the Sun Magic and it turns out that Genna is of a very important magical family. The cat shows up and makes lots of cryptic statements and Genna learns that she has a greater enemy than Banris that she must help defeat. And she learns that Banris is attacking the humans, including her family, who think that she and Catri are dead. So, against the wishes of the Spire and the ghosts, she uses the moonroads to go to her family. They use an air ship of the wizards to return to the Spire, where they are met by other refugees that the cat has brought. The people of Hillrush must adjust to the strange rules of the Spire and still Genna is no closer to accomplishing her goals. In the end, she and her brother Danrith, along with the cat, go to rescue the dragon from nightlings and taandu monsters. By so doing, they make themselves enemies of the Spire. They are all reunited with Yarri and Doyati, as well as the audiomaerist (sp?) and they must plan from there. So, this was very much a slow, middle "learning" book, with less forward action, but it did not bother me as much as usual because I really did want to learn more about Genna's world before dashing off to save it.
My complaints are that Catri turns on Genna too easily. They are these life-long best friends and then suddenly Catri throws in her lot with Jagan and his people. I have little trouble believing Catri would do it, but then why emphasize the strength and duration of their friendship when in the end it was fragile and easily destroyed??? Bad characterization. And while we know that Genna likes Doyati, they did very little to show that. Very. Very little. That said, I did like the scene when Doyati meets up with Genna after believing her dead.
He was looking at me, staring, his eyes huge and he said,"You're here." In the same voice a poor man would use if he fell into a field of gold and found out that it was all his. You're here. I will never as long as I live ever, ever forget the sound of his voice as he said those two words.
Looking forward to seeing how the series ends...